Anxiety and Depression in PolyCystic Ovary Syndrome | Fight Anxiety and PCOS
Depression and anxiety are common in women with PCOS. Learn how PCOS might affect your mental and emotional health, including mood, stress and body image. There is also information on what you can do if you find your mental and emotional health is affected by PCOS.
Mental & emotional health
Mental and emotional health is just as important as physical health. Depression and anxiety are common in women with PCOS, but are often overlooked and therefore left untreated.
Depression & anxiety explained
Depression is a serious and common illness that negatively affects the way you think, how you feel and how you act. People with depression have persistent and extreme negative feelings and thoughts. Depression can stop you from doing everyday activities such as sleeping and eating, and it can make it difficult for you to function each day, both physically and emotionally.
Anxiety is an unpleasant feeling of nervousness, fear or worry that something bad is happening or is about to happen. For some people, these feelings can become persistent and extreme. Ongoing feelings of anxiety can be distressing and can interfere with daily life, have physical effects, and can require treatment.
The effects of Depression & Anxiety
- Depression and anxiety can affect your quality of life in several ways:
- Physically – by disrupting your eating and sleeping patterns
- psychologically – by reducing your motivation and increasing feelings of worthlessness
- socially – by affecting your relationships.
Mental Wellbeing & PCOS
Research shows that experiencing the symptoms of PCOS, including excess hair growth, hair loss, acne, weight changes and fertility problems, can negatively affect mood, self-confidence and body image.
It has also been shown that the longer it takes for a woman to receive a diagnosis of PCOS, the more likely she is to be depressed or anxious. It can be difficult to cope with the symptoms of PCOS especially if you don’t’ know the cause.
Mental Wellbeing & Lifestyle
One of the most effective approaches for treating symptoms of PCOS has been shown to be a healthy lifestyle – eating a nutritious diet, being as active as possible and maintaining a healthy weight. However, reduced or poor mental and emotional health can make it difficult to look after yourself, follow a healthy lifestyle and make the best decisions about your health.
One of the keys to managing PCOS successfully is, therefore, being aware of the effect your mood can have on managing your lifestyle. It is important to seek help with this if you feel you need it.
With the right support, education about PCOS and appropriate treatment, your emotional health can be improved.
Exercise and emotional health
Exercise can be an effective supplement to treatment in mild and moderate depression and help to reduce anxiety, and may help prevent relapse of depression. Physical activity should not replace standard treatment, particularly for those with severe depression, however, different types of physical activity appear to be equally effective in managing depression.
What affects your emotional health?
There are many factors that influence emotional health, including: having a chronic disease like PCOS, where there are physical and psychological changes
- Lifestyle and stress
- Genes, personality and thinking
- Body image
- Relationships, family and friends
- Experiences, your sense of purpose and your coping styles.
- It is helpful to think about what influence each of these has on your mental and emotional health.
Reactions to diagnosis
Being diagnosed with a chronic disease such as PCOS can generate a range of feelings and emotions. Often, these are similar to a grief reaction. Not everyone will experience these feelings. In no particular order, the reactions can be:
What influences these feelings?
Sometimes the journey to a diagnosis of PCOS is a long and frustrating one. As it is a complex condition, diagnosis can be difficult. Many women with PCOS often report frustration over delays in diagnosis, made worse by lack of appropriate and helpful information.
Your reaction to a diagnosis often will depend on many things, such as how the diagnosis and condition was discussed with you; your symptoms, your personality and support network.
- Stress: Having a diagnosis and living with a condition such as PCOS can cause stress. Stress occurs when you feel threatened or feel you cannot cope with a situation. A little stress can provide motivation to act, but too much stress, particularly over a long period of time, can take its toll on your health and sense of well being. It’s helpful to take time to work out what can cause you stress. On a day-to-day basis, what is stressful for one person is not necessarily stressful for another.
- Body image: Body image is the way a person thinks or feels about their body. It can be influenced by many factors, including a person’s understanding of their health, their attitudes towards physical appearance, their physical fitness, body size and their personal or cultural values.
- Body image & PCOS: The physical changes of PCOS can affect your body image. Many of the symptoms of PCOS challenge our ideas about femininity and how women are ‘supposed’ to look. Many women with PCOS feel less physically attractive, physically fit and healthy. This can be very difficult to cope with emotionally.
PCOS can make some women feel self-conscious, reduce their self-esteem and confidence and/or affect their behavior. For example, some women might find they restrict their eating, start to obsess over food or stop spending time with their friends. If PCOS is affecting the way you feel about your body, or your behavior, talk to a health professional and/or a person you trust.
At different times of your life, different symptoms of PCOS can concern you more. If symptoms such as acne and excess hair growth are of concern to you and affect how you think about your body, it is important to seek treatment for these symptoms.